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COA uses opinion to clarify sentence claims

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The Indiana Court of Appeals used a defendant's appeal today to clarify that inappropriate sentence claims and abuse of discretion claims are to be analyzed separately.

David King's appeal of his sentence following a guilty plea to dealing cocaine as a Class B felony in David King v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0802-CR-162, prompted authoring Judge Nancy Vaidik to explain inappropriate sentence and abuse of discretion claims are to be analyzed separately. King's inappropriate sentence argument also had references to the abuse of discretion standard.

Because not-for-publication opinions are showing other attorneys are making this mistake, the appellate court wanted to use this opinion to clarify that an inappropriate sentence analysis doesn't involve an argument that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing the defendant, Judge Vaidik wrote.

Appellate courts may revise a sentence if it is found to be inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and character of the offender. The location of where a sentence is to be served is reviewable by the appellate court, but isn't subject to a review for abuse of discretion, she continued.

In the instant case, King, who was ordered to serve six years at the Department of Correction, alleges he should have been allowed to serve his time in community corrections or "at least be given the benefit of the mental health evaluation and treatment he clearly needs," but he doesn't detail the treatment. At his sentencing hearing, the trial court noted King claimed to have multiple personality disorder, a diagnosis he made himself.

His counsel failed to present evidence of what type of treatment King allegedly needs and was confused about King's diagnosis. The attorney requested placement with a mental health component, but didn't specify that component, wrote Judge Vaidik. And, King received his medication while in jail awaiting sentencing. Because of this evidence, King failed to persuade the appellate court his placement with the DOC was inappropriate.

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